Super Better Children in Zambia

Super Better Children in Zambia has been created as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With our work on pause from March 2020, Children for Health reached out to our network to understand better the challenges they were facing. We understood from colleagues in Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya that adolescents are anxious, sad and frustrated about their future. Many have started to engage in high-risk behaviour. There are no community-based interventions that help to bolster their well-being and resilience.

We identified educators who are active in striving to deliver educational activities to adolescents in their communities in spite of school closures. We set up Zoom meetings and used WhatsApp to understand what was being done and how we could help. We were impressed by 28-year-old, Kelvin Nsekwila, a primary school teacher and founder/director of Tusekwile Imiti Ikula Foundation Limited (TIIF).

See a YouTube video Kelvin has made to introduce his organisation.

Using Zoom and WhatsApp from Kelvin’s home in rural Zambia, over several meetings and WhatsApp exchanges together we’ve mapped out a programme of activities repurposing some of the evidenced-based, fun, practical ideas set out in Jane McGonigal’s book and app, SuperBetter. Kelvin is confident that these ideas will be of value and find acceptance in his community. The SuperBetter organisation in the USA is fully supportive of our endeavours.

In this project and using Zoom and WhatsApp to train and create together, Children for Health will work with Kelvin and 100 adolescents (10-15) in his community to:

  1. Co-create 10 social and emotional activities (the SuperBetter toolbox);
  2. Train Kelvin to use the 7-part SuperBetter model based on the principles of gaming: Challenges, Quests, Epic Wins, Bad Guys, Allies, Power-Ups, Heroic Identities; and
  3. Apply the Super Better model to one or more risk behaviours such as unhealthy diet and physical inactivity as defined by the adolescents.

Kelvin’s existing, close relationship with the adolescents and the school means that he can organise the activities formally in school or in the community as the Covid restrictions dictate. Kelvin will send text, video and photos working with the adolescents to create and use the tools and helping to monitor and evaluate their impact.

We will measure the impact of the activities on the physical and mental well-being of the adolescents and family members, friends and siblings. Children for Health will use tools to measure children’s mental and physical health.

The Tusekwile Imiti Ikula Foundation will publicise the project outcomes within the district and seek ways to sustain and scale it further.